Target apologized Thursday for supporting an anti-gay marriage gubernatorial candidate in Minnesota, the AP reported.

In a memo to employees, Target CEO Gregg Steinhafel wrote that he continues to believe that a “business climate conducive to growth is critical to our future,” but added he had not anticipated how the donation would affect its employees. “And for that I am genuinely sorry,” Steinhafel wrote.

Gay groups had criticized the Minnesota-based retail giant's $150,000 contribution to MN Forward, an independent political fund supporting anti-gay Republican candidate Tom Emmer.

Emmer, a fierce social conservative, has spoken in favor of putting a gay marriage ban in the Minnesota Constitution.

The move promoted talk of boycotts against Target and other Minnesota-based companies that had given to MN Forward, including electronics giant Best Buy Co., Red Wing Shoes and Polaris Industries Inc., a manufacturer of snowmobiles.

The businesses were taking advantage of a recent Supreme Court ruling that knocked down parts of a 63-year-old law that banned corporations from making campaign donations.

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation's largest gay advocate, published an open letter to Target and Best Buy in the Minnesota Star-Tribune calling on the companies to make amends.

“It's time to make things right,” the letter says. “The very least you can do to begin rebuilding your image among fair-minded consumers is to make equivalent donations to groups that support candidates who will put all Minnesota families first and fulfill the promises of our highest ideals.”

Target, which contributed the most money, said nearly two weeks ago that the donation was more about supporting pro-business candidates than anything else and insisted its support of the gay community is “unwavering.”

Leading Democrats in the race to win their party's August 10 nomination support legalizing gay marriage. A July 21 Rasmussen poll found all three hopefuls enjoying a narrow lead over Emmer.

One of those Democrats, ironically, is former Senator Mark Dayton, whose family founded Target.